Yesterday the Congress passed a bill that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011.
Overall, the very worst cuts—ones that would have devastated vulnerable Americans and taken us off the road to economic recovery—were avoided. For instance, the appropriations to implement the Affordable Care Act were preserved, which will improve the lives of millions of Americans and save the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars. Our federal funding of education at all levels—from Head Start to K-12 to Pell grants for college, will hold steady. The appropriations to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are intact.
However, there were many deep and important cuts that will negatively affect low-income Americans and their communities.
- 7%, or more than $500 million, cut to WIC, a food program for pregnant women and mothers.
- Nearly a billion dollars from the Community Development Block Grant, which helps communities all over the country with development goals.
- $30 million from the Legal Services Corporation which provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
- $900 million from community health centers.
- Nearly $400 million from the low-income home energy assistance program.
- More than $1 billion in key job training and education programs.
There are tough choices and important work ahead, including the fiscal year 2012 budget, which is being debated now. The cuts made to the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2011 budget, difficult as they are for many low income people, are dwarfed by some of the proposals for cuts being floated for FFY 2012, including the House Republican version that passed the House today on a partisan vote. And the standoff and political difficulties that surrounded the finalization of the FFY 2011 budget six months after the fiscal year began now look easy compared to the fundamental and high-stakes debates that will take place before there is an FFY 2012 final budget. Stay tuned.